Parabens are among the most commonly used preservatives in cosmetic products today. They are used to protect skincare products from bacterial overgrowth. Although parabens are generally well tolerated and have a low sensitivity rate, isolated incidents of allergic reactions to parabens have been reported. Thus, individuals with suspected preservative allergies or sensitive skin might be advised to use paraben-free products.
Parabens might be the most controversial ingredients in skincare products today, but also some of the most vigorously tested. Parabens have been safely used as a preservative in the food, drug and skincare industry for almost 100 years. In 1984, the Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR), an industry sponsored organization that reviews ingredient safety, again reviewed the safety of methyparaben, propylparaben, and butylparaben. The CIR has re-evaluated the safety of parabens since their initial studies and FDA scientists continue to review published studies on the safety of parabens. To date, they conclude, there is no reason for consumers to be concerned about the use of skincare products containing parabens.